‘Govt plans to make Sindh hub of investment’
Sindh’s chief minister said on Tuesday that his government had embarked on a comprehensive plan to introduce reforms in every sector to transform the province into a seat of prosperity and a hub of investment.
Syed Murad Ali Shah said this during a luncheon meeting with a World Bank delegation led by its country director, Patchamuthu Illangovan, at the CM House.
Illangovan gave a presentation on Sindh Growth Strategy, with the objectives to improve the investment climate, rural service delivery and connectivity to markets, and to strengthen government credibility. He said that improved investment climate could be achieved through reforms, regulations and an e-government system. He also suggested stimulating urban land markets through better regional planning and land regulations.
The WB chief said improvement in rural service delivery could be achieved through public-private partnerships. “[The Sindh administration] would have to strengthen government capacity for service delivery oversight and reduce gaps in health and education outcomes for women.”
For improved connectivity to markets, he stressed the need to connect villages with cities, particularly the port cities. He said that to strengthen government credibility, a dialogue should be commenced with the private sector, budgeting and the budget tracking system improved, and online citizen feedback received.
The chief executive discussed the Programme for Results, with proposed interventions and expected results, with the WB team. The interventions included automating all business licences, strengthening the contract enforcement process, providing leverage to the private sector to upgrade, developing and managing well-serviced industrial estates and zones, setting up combined effluent treatment plants through public-private partnerships, and reinforcing the Sindh Board of Investment for promoting targeted and strategic investments.
CM Shah pointed out that with the implementation of the interventions, the government’s approval time for new proposals as well as the compliance costs would be reduced.
“There will be lower risk of doing business. It will achieve export competitiveness and access to European markets. Easier access to serviced industrial land and lower industrial pollution will lead to increased local and foreign investment.”
The meeting agreed that there was a need to develop digital and transport connectivity. Therefore, they decided developing and implementing a comprehensive road map for an e-governance system for efficient service delivery. They discussed exploring avenues to develop and implement a strategic framework and fund for transport connectivity through public-private partnerships.
The meeting also discussed problems in five WB schemes under way in Sindh: the Sindh Public Sector Management Reform Project, the Sindh Agricultural Growth Project, the Sindh Barrages Improvement Project, the Sindh Skills Development Project and the Second Sindh Education Sector Project.
They decided holding strategic discussions on the key issues identified in the five projects, for which Planning & Development Board Chairman Mohammad Waseem would lead the Sindh government’s team.
Briefing the meeting on the reforms made so far, Waseem said that for the Ease of Doing Business project a cell had been set up at the Board of Investment to mobilise the authorities relating to the scheme’s indicators, such as business registration, dealing with construction permits, registering property and enforcing contracts. “The project will be made completely functional in the next financial year.”
Education Secretary Aziz Uqaili briefed the meeting on some of the achievements made in the education sector. He said that with the use of technology the teachers had returned to the classrooms, enrolment had improved slightly and teachers’ training programmes had been launched.
CM Shah said that under the reforms programme the Sindh Business Registration Portal would be launched by the end of the year. “It includes procurement of hardware and software, and hiring of the staff to manage the portal.”
He added that a one-window facility for getting construction permits at the Sindh Building Control Authority would also be started, for which a firm would be hired to design the facility as well as the related hardware and software.
A detailed discussion was also held on the bus rapid transport (BRT) system. Transport Minister Syed Nasir Shah briefed the meeting on the Orange Line and Blue Line busways of the Karachi Metrobus project.
The WB team expressed an interest in financing the Blue Line busway scheme and extending full technical support for it. However, the WB experts were not in favour of elevated routes of the BRT.